Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I am Too Young for This Life

Before the age of eighteen, we are dependent on our parents for nearly everything.  They provide our food and shelter, they are our mode of transportation, at least until we learn to drive, they pay our way for extracurricular activities, and they are the ones who schedule our doctor’s appointments.  Some of us remain partially dependent on them well into college for the purpose of maintaining health insurance, for monetary assistance in paying for college, for groceries, and simply having a place to do laundry for free.  That’s how it was for me.  I went to a college only thirty minutes from my parent’s house and although I still lived on campus, I had the privilege of having them close by in case I wanted a home cooked meal or to do laundry without having to carry a load of quarters along with me.  Even though I was beginning to create my own life and develop responsibilities at college, I was still dependent on my parents until roughly the age of twenty-two.  No matter how much of an adult I had become or how persuasive college was to forming my independence, I still belonged to my parents.  I was still their little girl.

Seven months after college graduation, I got married.  And marrying a Marine meant moving away, far enough away that regular contact with my parents was by phone call only.  I adjusted smoothly to the change, but I can’t deny that it took me a long time to not feel weird about the fact that I was married.  How could I be married?  I still felt like I should be that little girl playing Barbies in her bedroom with Mom cleaning the house and Dad working in the yard.  Now I’m married?  I loved being married right from the beginning and had no desire to go back to the unmarried life, but all of it was just so surreal.
And then I got pregnant.  I remember daydreaming when I was younger about the mystery of pregnancy.  What would it feel like?  What would I look like with a big belly? Will I really want to eat everything in sight, and would I really crave ice cream and pickles?  The answers at the time were unknown, but what I did know was that I was going to be so excited the day I found out I was pregnant with a baby, and even more excited the day that baby came into the world.  When we told my parents that they were going to be grandparents, it was very exciting but also very unusual.  I felt as though my life was just a dream and that was actually a fifteen-year-old girl asleep in my bed getting a glimpse of what was to come.  How could I have a growing baby in my belly?  I’m supposed to wait until I’m married to have a baby!  Oh, wait, I am married!  As I watched my parents’ excitement after we unveiled the news, I wondered if my dad was secretly badmouthing Randall, just as Steve Martin’s character did in Father of the Bride, Part two. 

Now, seven and a half years into marriage and five and a half years after that first positive pregnancy test, I still find myself thinking that I am too young for all of this.  There are times when I feel like I am still that little girl who is completely dependent on her parents.  It shocks me sometimes when I realize that together, my husband and I own a home, we’ve purchased cars, we make our own plans, and we make the decisions in every aspect of our lives.  We are fully responsible adults, not only for our own lives but for two more little lives.  I watch my kids play and think about how it should be my brother and me running around the yard or playing together in the living room.  It should be me who’s learning to read and write.  It should be my parents who have all the responsibility while I just enjoy being a kid knowing that mommy and daddy are taking care of everything.  But it’s not; whether I feel like it or not, I have grown up.  I am not a kid anymore.  I am the responsible one.  And my kids are the carefree ones who are relying on mommy and daddy for everything. 
Someday I might accept this.  Someday my thought process might actually catch up with me.  Someday I might feel like that curly-haired little girl finally grew up.  But until then, I will remain in disbelief, I will still go to my parents when I don’t know the answer, and I will realize that the home I live in actually is my own.

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